Travels with Pat and Jenny

A variety of day trips we have taken 

Pat and Jenny's current Big Dawg Day Tripper... a 1992 Honda Goldwing


RETURN HOME Hannibal Castlewood State Park Jerseyville Victorian Days Beaver Dam State Park

        Jenny and I love to ride our Goldwing for several reasons we share...the sights, the sounds and (as she remarked) the smells are so vivid experienced from the bike.  While we would love to tour the countryside far from home we have come to accept that our comfort level maxes out at about two hours.    We can go farther with some stretch time but we prefer to use our day trips to explore within our comfort zone.

    That said we are extremely fortunate to live in an area that offers so much in every direction of the compass.  We feel that our local area may be one of the best kept secrets there is.  (You decide how local is local.)  We don't often see articles in national magazines touting the wonders of Calhoun County or even central Missouri but unless you have eaten fresh picked Calhoun peaches in August we wouldn't expect you to understand.

    We have taken many weekend rides around our local area we call our day trips but we have just recently begun to collect pictures and facts to organize into a presentable journal.  As I remarked in another place, you never take enough pictures to do the trip justice and I always regret passing up photo-ops that I know would enhance our web page.  The truth at this point is that if we stopped the bike for every great shot we would never get anywhere.

    So much for quality journalism.  Please bear with us as we grow this section and continue to learn how to make it better.  We will share what we have and add more as we go. 

Hannibal, Mo. 8-17-03

A view from Lover's Leap, just south of Hannibal, Mo. looking north up the Mississippi river.

     We live in Alton, Illinois on the north bank of the Mississippi River and have lived around this great river all our lives.  This river is not one you can take for granted and is a presence that is always there.  In case you are wondering the river takes a swirl a few miles north of St. Louis and does run straight east in front of Alton, so we do live on the north shore.  The general area around Alton is known as Riverbend.

     There is a stretch of the Great River Road that runs along the river from Alton to Grafton, Ill.  This picture looks back east toward Alton from just outside Grafton.  It is at Grafton that the Illinois River, running south from Chicago, joins the Mississippi River.  .   

Continuing north and west you cross the Illinois river into Calhoun County.  Calhoun is renowned for its many peach and apple orchards and other fruit farms.  The peaches are frequent victims of late frosts in our area but when they have a favorable season...WOW!  

    Taking a motorcycle through Calhoun County is a bikers dream.  The road mainly follows the river bottom venturing now and again up the side of the bluff to give great views of the area.  First going north on Hiway 96 we chose to cut west on 54 and cross the Mississippi at Louisiana.  There is a surprisingly attractive and busy marina on the Illinois side at Louisiana.  After a pit stop for gas we then go north 30 miles on 79 up the Missouri side to Hannibal.  This stretch of 79 would make you think of the Smokey Mountains, up and down, round and round.  I wish I had a picture of the sign coming out of Louisiana that warns truckers "Narrow twisting road, consider alternate routes."  It might as well say "This way to biker heaven." 

    Of course Hannibal is famous for its locale as Mark Twain's home and setting for the Tom Sawyer story.  I apologize for my clumsy stitched photo but the view from Lover's Leap Overlook is so panoramic that I had to try it.   We had a delightful picnic lunch at the overlook (Jenny packs a great saddlebag) and then went into town. 

    We try very hard to route our trips in loops so that we do not "out and back", taking us on as many new roads as possible.  So we crossed back over the Mississippi at Hannibal, going east and then picked up Hiway 96 at Kinderhook to go back south to Calhoun County.  We passed a bank clock that showed the mid August temperature on this fine Sunday afternoon to be 102 degrees.    


Castlewood State Park, St. Louis County, Mo. 8-24-03

Castlewood State Park in west St. Louis County is located on the Meramec River and known for its hiking and bicycling trails.  It is not a large park yet it offers a wide variety of activities... from a nice sandy swimming beach, scenic trails that are very popular with both mountain bikers and hikers and the normal range of picnicking, barbecuing and lazing around.

     We were walking a trail when I turned around a caught this butterfly just inches away.  It was not a hard picture to take as there were a lot of flowers and a lot of butterflies.


Since Castlewood is only about an hours ride from Alton we had a nice leisurely lunch in the shade, thanks again to Jenny.

We walked the river walk trail that follows along the bank of the Meramec River, took a few pictures and enjoyed watching the bathers at the beach and the butterflies in the flowers.





This is a perfect place to visit in the St. Louis summer heat, if you bring along your swim wear.



The story is that years ago (1920's) Castlewood was a summer resort area served by trains from the city of St. Louis. 

People would escape the oppressive St. Louis summer heat by heading to the river.  There were also resort hotels on the bluff overlooking the river and so it was swim by day and party at night. 





Jerseyville, Illinois   Victorian Days    8-31-03

This was the first year we visited this annual happening to our north and what a mistake not having gone before.  Jerseyville is the county seat of Jersey County and is approximately 20 miles north of Alton, maybe 40 miles north of St. Louis.  I have just recently purchased my first digital camera and took a bunch of pictures with it here. (I have several nice 35mm cameras and had been having discs made when I have the film processed.  I may still use them but this Sony digital is looking pretty impressive so far.) 

As shown in the pictures below this event was held at Hazel Dell one mile north of Jerseyville, Illinois.  This 200 acre estate belonged to one Colonel William Fulkerson, late of the Confederate States of America.  Originally from Tennessee he married a lady named Cornelia Russell who had family in this area.  Wounded during the war he later moved north, established this farm and built the 14 room Victorian styled mansion.  It is told as fact that the Jesse James gang were acquaintances of the Colonel and he allowed them to stay on the property, camped down by the creek in back.  Another interesting fact is that Cornelia's nephew was Charles M. Russell, the famous Western artist and he was a frequent visitor to Hazel Dell, he in fact learned to ride from the Colonel on his mount, Great Britain.  Below I have loaded a bunch of pictures from the event, including a few of the marvelous Civil War battle re-enactment.

Here's Pat conferring with the President

It was evident that there were a great number of troops gathering at Hazel Dell, the post-war homestead of Colonel William Fulkerson

This is the front lawn of Colonel Fulkerson's 200 acre farm known as Hazel Dell.  The Colonel was originally from Tennessee and joined the Confederate Army there.  He was badly wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga and it is told that his coal black stallion, named "Great Britain", saved his life by getting him home.  Great Britain is buried on the front lawn, to the left of where these soldiers are standing.  

It was a beautiful day for an outing and there were a lot of folks at the mansion enjoying a little fiddle playing on the side porch patio.

Even the little ones were dressed for the day and enjoying a stroll with Mom.

The Civil War Re-enactors were stunningly realistic.  There were people here from all over the Mid-West and it was evident they were having a lot of fun while taking the event very seriously. 

The troops were moving with a purpose.  Also included in this view is a small sample of the tractor show that was going on during the festival.

This massive Case Engine was from the twenties.  It is an impressive beast and they loved showing it off.

Another gathering of the northern troops.

This is a shot of the Confederate artillery commander lining up his guns before the big battle.  To see it full sized click HERE

The battle re-enactment in full swing...this view is across the meadow toward the main body of the Union troops and their artillery line on the distant hill

The Confederate boys answered the Union artillery shot for shot.  These guys did an outstanding job and put on a great show.  If you ever get a chance to see one of these battle re-enactments it is well worth the trip.


Beaver Dam State Park, Macoupin County, Illinois    Sept 2003

This is a delightful little park to visit, especially on an absolutely beautiful late summer day. It had threatened rain earlier in the day but then the sun broke out and we decided to take a quick ride to one of our favorite spots, Beaver Dam State Park. Located a little less than an hours drive north of Alton the route crosses the lush rolling farm ground that is such a joy to ride.


The park today consists of approximately 750 acres featuring a gem of a 59 acre lake that is regularly stocked with game fish. Crappie, trout, bluegill and bass are caught in the lake.
The park originated in the late 1890's when a group of local businessmen formed the Beaver Dam Lake Club and spent $2500 to build its two dams.

 Jenny and I like the park for its quiet nature and its hiking trails surrounding the lake.  As usual we pack a cooler with some snacks and drinks and if we can find a shady picnic table that the squirrels aren't using to eat hickory nuts on we relax and nibble. 

The picture at the right is an example of the hiking trail that follows the shoreline around the lake.  

This is a picture of the north dam.  Jenny and I joke that some pretty ambitious Illinois beavers must have built it. 

I knew it was a beautiful day but did not realize until Jenny pointed it out that the picture captures the reflection of the clouds in the lake. I am more impressed by this Sony digital camera each time I use it.   

This rather bizarre find of Jenny's turned out to be a picture story.  We had reached the dam and while crossing it she noticed these four hefty dam stones out of place.  Upon closer investigation the remains of a seriously dead Copperhead snake were evident.  The picture tells the story of a lone snake slithering along the dam path, caught out by unknown assailants and bludgeoned to death with rocks.

RIP snake.

Jenny loves the wide variety of wildflowers in our area.  She spied out this pretty little purple one and when I went to snap it we noticed several honey bees working it.  

Taken as we retreated back off the dam path, looking into the setting sun.  The Big Dawg day tripper waits patiently in the parking lot as we finish our snack and prepare to motor home.  72 degrees and fair, perfect riding weather. 

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